10 years have passed since Rebecca Black introduced herself to the world with “Friday,” an instantly viral song about being a kid who’s truly pumped that the weekend has arrived. In the time since she first fascinated millions with a compellingly terrible track about partyin’ (partyin’, yeah!), Black has grown up and, for the most part, put the past behind her in order to create far better music. In the process, she left a void in the cultural fabric that has only now been filled with the arrival of singer-songwriter Sarah Brand and her single, “Red Dress.”
If you managed to make it through the entire music video, you likely don’t need many words to help you understand what makes this song so exceptional. From the consistently off-pitch vocals to the half-assed guitar solo and the group dance performed in an Oxford church, every bit of “Red Dress” invites a kind of car wreck curiosity.
The lyrics center on Brand grappling with the injustices of religion by confronting her “feels” about its conditional love and singing verses like, “It just ain’t me singing of sins, watching exclusion getting its wins.” As the (more than a little Taylor Swift-reminiscent) chorus hits, Brand lets it all out. “They see me in a red dress, hopping on the devil fest,” she warbles. “Thinking of lust, as they judge in disgust/ What are you doing here?” This work is, we guess, a good example of Brand’s musical style, which is described on her website as “pop music infused with sociological introspection spanning topics such as religious hypocrisy, inequality, and romance.”
“Red Dress” comes across in part as an avant-garde provocation—a dare that tests its listeners’ endurance while also forcing them to question whether something so obviously horrible was made without Brand understanding what she was doing. The recording quality is fine and Brand somehow got access to the church and plenty of extras for a shoot (she directed, produced, choreographed, and edited this thing herself). It seems like any of one of these collaborators could have stopped her at some point between the song’s conception and its final form’s release. And yet, they didn’t, whether because it’s all a big joke or, equally likely, because they were getting paid well enough not to object.
Anyway, if you’d like to join us in spending the rest of the day musing on the many mysteries that accompany the arrival of 2021's most exciting debut, “enjoy” some more reference material through Brand’s stunning B-side, “Fantasy.”
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